UNESCO’s 5 Audio Recordings of His Highness the Aga Khan and Prince Sadruddin Are Now On Organization’s New Digital Platform

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

In 2015, UNESCO launched a fundraising project to digitize the Organization’s archives dating as far back as the 1940’s out of a major concern that the multiplicity of analogue formats in their audiovisual collections, which included films, videos, audio recordings and photos, made their accessibility a big challenge, and in some cases impossible. The goal of the project was two fold: (1) to preserve key parts of the organization’s collective memory and (2) make the records more readily available to the public.

It was felt that digital versions would contribute to the continuity of and access to the content, as well as to the preservation of the original materials by reducing the risk of damage incurred through handling, extending their longevity and historical value.

With the generous support of the Government of Japan, UNESCO launched a major two-year initiative in partnership with the digitization company Picturae BV, and an on-site laboratory was installed at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in February of 2018.

Aga Khan Award for Architecture 1st award ceremony Lahore Pakistan, Barakah
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, presents the Aga Khan Award for Architecture to representatives of the Kampung Improvement Programme (KIP) in Jakarta, Indonesia at the first award ceremony held on October 23. 1980, in Lahore, Pakistan. Photo: AKDN/Christopher Little.

Last autumn, when I first became aware of the project, I visited UNESCO’s digital archives website and learned that there were five recordings related to Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Sadruddin that were part of the digitization process. I found the recordings of high quality and interesting, and contacted UNESCO hoping that I would be provided with all the recordings for direct uploading onto Barakah. The response I received was that UNESCO files are not generally provided for embedding into non-UNESCO platforms. The reference archivist, Ms. Eng Sengsavang, sent a link to a page that would enable readers to listen to each of the five recordings. I have, however, decided to break down the five recordings in the following sequence:

1. The Voice of the Aga Khan (1982, in English)

Aga Khan at first award ceremony Lahore
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, presents the Aga Khan Award for Architecture to representatives of the Kampung Improvement Programme (KIP) in Jakarta, Indonesia at the first award ceremony held on October 23. 1980, in Lahore, Pakistan. Photo: AKDN/Christopher Little.

Although entitled “Building the 15th century”, this special 14:24 minute broadcast presented by UNESCO focuses on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision of Islamic architecture for the contemporary times and includes significant quotes from the address that he delivered on October 23, 1980 at the first historic award ceremony held in Lahore. Listen to audio by clicking on BUILDING THE 15TH CENTURY: THE VOICE OF THE AGA KHAN


2. Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Presents Inspiring 12 Year Old French Girl Portrait Head of Queen Nefertiti (1960, in English)

Picture of the Nefertiti bust in Neues Museum, Berlin
Picture of the Nefertiti bust in Neues Museum, Berlin. Photo: Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0

A 3:20 minute audio recording in English of a short ceremony in which Prince Sadruddin presented 12 year old Yvette Sauvage with a portrait head of the beautiful Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. The French girl took an immense amount of interest in Egypt’s threatened Nubian monuments, and decided to raise funds among her classmates to save the monuments. Her story was circulated around the world by UNESCO. Her initiative impressed the Egyptian government so much that they decided to present her with a porcelain reproduction of the head of the famous Queen. The presentation ceremony took place on September 9, 1960 at UNESCO House in Paris. Prince Sadruddin made a few remarks praising the girl’s initiative and then made the presentation as UNESCO’s special consultant on the Nubian campaign. Listen to audio by clicking PRINCE SADRUDDIN PRESENTS 12 YEAR OLD YVETTE SAUVAGE WITH PORTRAIT HEAD OF QUEEN NEFERTITI


3. Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan on the Nubian Monuments (1961 Interview, in French)

I took my first steps in international life at UNESCO, which at that time was conducting an exciting campaign to save the monuments of Nubia, a campaign which in my opinion remains one of UNESCO’s great achievements. In the middle of the Cold War it was quite remarkable to get East European archaeologists to join archaeologists from the United States and other Western countries in order to save the treasures of ancient Egypt. Not to mention that since 1956 Nasser had not exactly been the most popular Arab figure in the West — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in interview with UNESCO Courier [1]

Nubian monuments and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan unesco courier photo, barakah
The Nubian Monuments are in an archaeological zone of primary importance which extends from Aswan to the Sudanese border. It includes magnificent monuments as the Temples of Ramses II at Abu Simbel and the Sanctuary of Isis at Philae, which were saved from the rising waters of the Nile thanks to the International Campaign launched by UNESCO, in 1960 to 1980. Photo Credit: UNESCO

To listen to UNESCO audio recording of French interview of Prince Sadruddin on the Monuments of Nubia (1961), duration appx. 6:35 minutes, please click on PRINCE SADRUDDIN ON NUBIA MONUMENTS


4. Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan on Refugees (1963, in Italian)

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Refugees
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadruddin Aga Khan, and Abel Alier, President of the Provisional High Executive council of the South Sudan visit the village of Kajo Kaji, South Sudan. Photo Credit: UN Photo/1972

Audio recording of Interview in Italian of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan on Refugees (1963), duration appx. 4 minutes. Click on REFUGEES


5. Record Presentation by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan to Couve de Murville and René Maheu (1963, in French)

A portrait of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.
A portrait of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. Photo: © UNHCR.

Audio recording in French of Presentation of a Record to Mr. Couve de Murville and Mr. René Maheu by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan: In aid of refugees.

Jacques-Maurice Couve de Murville was a French diplomat and politician who was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1958 to 1968 and Prime Minister from 1968 to 1969 under the presidency of General de Gaulle. As foreign minister he played the leading role in the critical Franco-German treaty of cooperation in 1963. He laid the foundation for the Paris-Bonn axis that was central in building a united Europe. (Wikipedia)

René Maheu was a French professor of philosophy and the sixth Director-General of UNESCO.


Finally, interested readers may wish to see the UNESCO page that was provided to me by Ms. Sengsavang, where all of the 5 links shown above appear, albeit in a different sequence. Please click UNESCO AGA KHAN PAGE.

Date posted: April 16, 2021.
Last updated: May 7, 2021 (typos and reformatting).



[1]. Read full Interview in Simerg


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This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat.

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